Friday, January 24th, 2014
In one of the saddest pregnancy news stories ever, there is more bad news for Marlise Munoz, the pregnant woman being forced by the state of Texas to remain on life support—even though she has been declared brain dead and her family say being on life support is against her wishes. Doctors now have confirmed what family members have feared all along, that the baby Marlise is carrying is not going to be a healthy one—if it can even survive under the harsh circumstances. The fetus is at about 22 weeks gestation (it was at 14 weeks when Marlise was pronounced brain dead).
The hospital said pulling the plug would violate a Texas law that says life-sustaining support can’t be withdrawn or withheld from a pregnant person. The goal of course is to keep the baby alive. But attorneys for Marlise’s husband, Erick, have announced as part of their lawsuit to get John Peter Smith Hospital in Forth Worth to remove Marlise from life support that the pregnancy is no longer viable. The child’s lower extremities are already “deformed to the point that the child’s gender cannot be determined” and that there is “fluid build up inside the skull and possible heart problems.”
“Quite sadly, this information is not surprising due to the fact that the fetus, after being deprived of oxygen for an indeterminate length of time, is gestating within a dead and deteriorating body, as a horrified family looks on in absolute anguish, distress and sadness,” said the statement.
A hearing in the case took place today, and Judge R.H. Wallace ordered that the hospital remove life support by 5 p.m. on Jan. 27. Soon Marlise’s family will no longer have to suffer watching their once vibrant wife, daughter, mother (she and Erick also have an 16-month-old son) lying in a hospital bed unresponsive since Thanksgiving. I’m glad Marlise, her unborn baby, and her family will soon find peace. Unfortunately in this sort of case there really isn’t such a thing as a happy ending.
TELL US: Do you agree or disagree with these laws that Texas and 11 other states have that disregard a woman’s end-of-life wishes while she is pregnant?
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Monday, January 6th, 2014
A woman in Texas named Marlise Munoz suffered what doctors believe was a lung blockage just before Thanksgiving. When her husband Erick found her, she was unconscious, and the family has said a doctor declared her brain dead.
Despite Marlise’s wishes to never be kept alive on life support, and despite her family’s wishes to disconnect her from machines, the state of Texas is forcing the Munoz family to keep her on ventilators. Why? Because at the time of the tragedy, Marlise happened to be 14 weeks pregnant; and per Texas law, if a woman is pregnant, life-sustaining procedures cannot be withheld or discontinued—even if she has a living will stating that she does not want to be kept on life support. In Marlise’s case, if the fetus continues to develop and the pregnancy can be sustained, she could remain on ventilators until May.
“We are following the law of the state of Texas,” a spokesperson for the John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth told the Associated Press. “This is not a difficult decision for us. We are following the law.”
Several legal experts analyzing this case say that the hospital is actually misinterpreting the law, and that Marlise’s wishes should be followed since she is legally dead—but the North Texas hospital continues to refuse a disconnect.
I cannot imagine the grief and heartache that the Munoz family is facing at this time. Not only has her husband, Erick, lost his wife, but it’s unlikely that this pregnancy could come to term and that the fetus could develop normally with Marlise in this state. Already the father of a 14-month-old boy, Erick has said he wanted another child, but he’s concerned about the damage already done to the fetus in attempts to revive his wife, and would rather let his wife rest in peace.
The fact that the state has the right to intervene and prolong this situation is sickening, and although some might see this as a pro-choice/anti-choice issue–it’s actually an issue of human dignity and human decency. Two things that all people, including Marlise and Erick, should be afforded.
“This isn’t about pro-life or pro-choice,” Ernest Machado, Marlise’s father, tearfully told Dallas News Friday. “We want to say goodbye. We want to let them rest.”
TELL US: Did you know that Texas and eleven other states have laws that disregard a woman’s end-of-life wishes while she is pregnant? Do you agree or disagree with these laws?
NEXT: Make sure your medical records are in order.
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